i d e n t i t y  t h i e f

identity thief 1.jpg
UK Release Date 22nd March 2013
Director Seth Gordon
Starring People Who Should Know Better
Runtime 111 Minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 3rd April 2013

When we started this site, we knew we were going to have to watch a lot of films. And this made us happy. But then, we realised we were going to have to watch some films that probably wouldn’t be quite so enjoyable. I guess it’s the part that makes this bit ‘work’ rather than hobby. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

We love Jason Bateman. We watched the entire of Arrested Development and it’s probably one of the best things to ever to come out of TV land. Bateman’s turn as Michael Bluth is one of the main reasons. He has an incredible ability to play it straight against increasingly bizarre circumstances and although covering the straight role, he is still very, very funny. To an extent, he represents the audience’s disbelief at the evolving situation without ever making us question the events. His movie career thus far has been solid although we’re not convinced he’s been given that leading man role yet that he really deserves.

Identity Thief is also not that film. It is a lousy piece of work that left me feeling bad for everybody involved. Or bad about everybody involved I’m not sure which. It’s a film that left me on one hand, not wanting to spend any more time thinking about it and therefore not reviewing it but on the other hand feeling obliged to review it because I’d paid to see it and I don’t really want you to have to go through the same waste of money.

To briefly outline the plot, the film follows Bateman’s character, hilariously called Sandy in order that it can be used as both a boy or a girl’s name depending on the situation. Melissa McCarthy’s character Diane steals his identity by asking him three questions over the phone and for reasons that I can’t account for even now, he has to trail across the country to fetch her back to justice or will lose his job. To add to the excitement, throw in some barely sketched gangsters and a grizzled bounty hunter all after either Sandy for something or other that makes no difference to anything.

What ensues is part Planes, Trains and Automobiles and part an actual film car-wreck. It’s bad on nearly every level. It was sold as a ‘raucous comedy knockabout’. It is not any of those things. It’s a pisspoor road movie that takes a clearly unstable character and has her hit in the face by a home intruder wielding a guitar. And if that sounds funny, it’s a testament to this film that it makes it quite the opposite. The problem is that the film never decides whether it wants to make serious points about long term mental illness or whether it just wants to throw in a ‘rental car being wrecked’ gag. Planes, Trains and Automobiles managed this mix because it was smart and never mean spirited. Identity Thief is very definitely not smart and the whole exercise feels like picking on the least bright kid in class.

Crucially, the film is never actually funny. I laughed once. At a joke I’m pretty sure I’ve heard before but I won’t spoil here by revealing. The remaining audience managed a few laughs here and there but I have no idea what at. Everyone in this film deserves better, Seth Gordon made King of Kong for crying out loud, that film was fantastic. McCarthy was great in Bridesmaids, Amanda Peet is beautiful (although for some reason this film has her obviously wearing a spectacular amount of make-up in bed) and we love Robert Patrick. 

This film will just make you feel sad at having sat through it. But then, if you’ve read this and still watched it, I wash my hands of you.

Check out the Identity Thief trailer here. 

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